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Benjamin Neelon

Director of the Lerner Center
The Helaine and Sidney Lerner Professor
Sara Benjamin Neelon

Departmental Affiliations

Human Nutrition

Center & Institute Affiliations

Sara Benjamin-Neelon, PhD, JD, MPH, is an attorney and child nutritionist who examines early life predictors of obesity and other chronic diseases with a health equity lens.

Contact Info

615 N. Wolfe Street, Room W3041

Research Interests

Community-based interventions targeting children and families; Domestic and global chronic disease prevention; Health disparities in early life feeding, physical activity, sleep, and stress; Epigenetic and environmental changes affecting child growth; Evaluation of natural experiments to create healthier food and physical activity environments; Evaluation of nutrition and physical activity policy change; Health equity; Legal analysis; Food insecurity and health; Population-based dietary assessment
Experiences & Accomplishments
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Ithaca College
Dr. Benjamin Neelon is also an Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Diet and Activity Research, MRC Epidemiology, University of Cambridge.  Please see: for more information.
Select Publications
Some recent publications
  • Benjamin-Neelon SE, Bai J, Østbye T, Neelon B, Pate RR, Crainiceanu C. Physical activity and adiposity in a racially diverse cohort of US infants. Obesity. Obesity. 2020;28(3)631-637. PMCID forthcoming.
  • Gonzalez-Nahm S, Grossman ER, Benjamin-Neelon SE. The role of equity in US state breastfeeding policies. JAMA Pediatrics. 2019 Aug 12. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.2582. [Epub ahead of print].
  • Benjamin-Neelon SE, Hecht AA, Burgoine T, Adams J. Perceived barriers to fruit and vegetable gardens in early years settings in England: Results from a cross-sectional survey of nurseries. Nutrients. 2019;11(12). No PMCID.
  • Benjamin-Neelon SE, Platt A, Bacardí-Gascón M, Armstrong S, Neelon B, Jiménez-Cruz A. Greenspace, physical activity, and BMI in children from two cities in northern Mexico. Preventive Medicine Reports. 2019;14:100870. PMCID forthcoming.
  • Benjamin Neelon SE, White AJ, Vidal AC, Schildkraut JM, Murtha AP, Murphy SK, Kullman SW, Hoyo C. Maternal vitamin D, DNA methylation at imprint regulatory regions, and offspring weight at birth, 1 year, and 3 years. International Journal of Obesity. 2018;42(4):587-593.
Early child care and risk of obesity
Evaluation of South Carolina nutrition and physical activity policy
Maryland Statewide Initiative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems
Licensing laws supporting healthy feeding and active play for infants and toddlers in early care and education
Nutrition policy for healthy meals in early childhood: Impacts on diet quality and food waste
Preventing obesity in infants and toddlers in child care
Analysis of baby friendly hospitals: Assessing coverage among vulnerable communities